We cannot afford not to act – minimum wage and basic income

Re: “Sudbury Accent: Will new measures help poor?,” June 12.

Minimum wage hikes and guarantees of a basic income. These two provincial initiatives are under public debate lately with concerns being raised about their wisdom and affordability. I think they are both wise and affordable. In fact, I think that we cannot afford not to act. Poverty is killing us. It is not only the poorest among us who are affected but all of us. The poorer we are, the earlier we die and the more illness and disability we experience in our lifetimes. This is not ideology. It is a fact that is borne out locally just as it is internationally. Raising the minimum wage and guaranteeing a basic income are two well-researched strategies intended to give people a fighting chance. They are not magic bullets. But they are an important start and are in the best interests of all of us. Healthy people contribute their skills and talents to advancing our society, they actively participate in our communities’ economies, and they use fewer health care resources. For the greatest opportunities for health, people eat well, exercise regularly, do not smoke, drink only in moderation, have a healthy weight… and live in a society that actively rejects poverty. My perspective and training are that of a public health doctor not of an economist. What is the ideal level of income? What is the best way to roll out the basic income guarantee? How can we mitigate risks to small businesses? These are questions best answered collectively, carefully balancing economic facts and societal values. But, should we move forward on raising people out of poverty? Of course we should. It is the only wise and affordable thing to do.

Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health

Sudbury & District Health Unit

This item was last modified on June 15, 2017